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Indian Spiced Black Dhal-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This lunch is super filling and an immune-boosting powerhouse. Black lentils are so beautiful—they remind me of caviar, little jewels on top of the bright orange sweet potato flesh. Both sweet potatoes and lentils are rich in fiber that will keep you full well through the afternoon, and the lentils, inspired by traditional Indian dhal, are flavored with a plethora of exotic spices that are rich with flavor and health benefits. The turmeric, particularly, is incredibly for quelling inflammation, but you get its maximum benefits only when you eat it with fat (such as the coconut milk in this recipe) and black pepper (which makes it over a thousand times more bioavailable). You’ll also let the minced garlic sit for 20 minutes to activate its healing enzymes and add it at the very end so that it’s cooked long enough for its potent bite is dulled but for the health benefits to remain entirely intact.

Makes 1 to 4

1 onion, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne

1 cup dried black lentils (Optional: Cover completely with water and a bit of sea salt and let soak overnight; drain and rinse well before following the recipe, using ¼ cup less stock. This helps make the lentils more digestible.)

1½ cups vegetable stock

1½ cups or 1 13½-ounce can of coconut milk

3 cloves garlic

1 to 4 sweet potatoes (depending on how many servings you’re making: see note)

fresh cilantro, to garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Wash sweet potato and place it directly in the oven, with a piece of parchment or foil below to catch any drips. Cook for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until it gives easily when squeezed. Remove from oven and let cool.

3. Meanwhile, peel and mince your garlic and set aside, so the compounds have time to activate.

4. In a medium pot, cook onion until translucent; add spices and cook for 3 more minutes or until fragrant. Add lentils, vegetable broth, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, or until lentils are very soft and have absorbed most of the liquid. Then turn off the heat, add the garlic immediately, and stir (this cooks the garlic enough to mitigate the intensity of the flavor while preserving all of its health benefits).

5. Spoon over sweet potatoes and top with a few generous spoonfuls of dhal. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.

Note: This dhal recipe makes enough for 4 ¾-cup servings. Each serving should top 1 sweet potato; you can either make 4 sweet potatoes and eat throughout the week or simply eat the dhal as leftovers. It also freezes well.

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